It’s an 886-mile drive from Ground Zero in Manhattan to Murfreesboro, TN, outside of Nashville. But to some, that’s apparently too close.
“Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.
Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.
Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.
The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said….
The chair of the center’s planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning after he was contacted by the sheriff’s department.
“Our people and community are so worried of what else can happen,” said Fathy. “They are so scared.”
Great. Just great. Let’s be blunt: What happened over the weekend represents an act of domestic terrorism, directed at peaceful people — many of whom are no doubt American citizens — who want nothing more than to live and worship in peace.
Some people have tried to cut the baby in half regarding the proposed Islamic Center/mosque in New York City, arguing that sure, technically, Muslims have the “right” to build where they want to build, but they’d be more “sensitive” if they moved the project elsewhere. But as the Murfreesboro case demonstrates, it’s not really about proximity to Ground Zero and sensitivity is not the cure. It’s about vile and unAmerican discrimination. Such bigotry must be confronted and denounced, not placated.
Just last week, on his “700 Club” show, Pat Robertson weighed in against the Murfreesboro mosque, warning that it was probably being funded by Saudi Arabians as part of a conspiracy to impose sharia on the Murfreesboro area. As the Nashville Tennessean reports:
“Islamic Center officials have said they are building the center in stages because they are using only local funds to pay for it, and they have not accepted contributions from elsewhere.
But Robertson claimed money from wealthy Muslims in Saudi Arabia could be used to pay for construction of the mosque. That Middle East country, he said, practices a more extreme form of Islam.
“This isn’t just religion,” the televangelist said.
He went on to say that Muslims could end up taking over the city council to pass ordinances that require public prayer and foot washing. The new Islamic Center is outside the Murfreesboro city limits. An existing center is much smaller and has been in the city for years.
Robertson said a Muslim takeover would mean girls would have to wear headdresses to school… Thursday, Robertson said local officials could end up being cowed by Muslims’ ability “to bribe folks.” A $10,000 bribe could easily influence a public official in a small town, he said.”
The Muslim community in Murfreesboro comprises some 250 families, some of whom have lived in the area for more than a generation. They plan initially to build a 10,000-square-foot worship facility on the 15-acre tract, followed later by an activity room, offices, gymnasium, a swimming pool, outdoor athletic fields and possibly a cemetery.
But some opponents have apparently charged that the Muslims’ real goal is to build a terrorist training facility. Others have been only slightly less blunt in media interviews.
“They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group,” Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.
Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore “Vote for Jesus” T-shirts and carried signs that said “No Sharia law for USA!,” referring to the Islamic code of law.
“No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers said to WTVF. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”
Fathy, the head of the Muslim group’s planning committee, told the Tennessean that friends back in Egypt are surprised to hear about crimes against mosques such as Sunday’s vandalism. “They cannot fathom this,” he said. “They always look at the U.S. as the place where democracy is practiced best.”
That’s what we are when we are at our best, when we don’t allow the extremists in our own midst to set the agenda.